AMARILLO, TEXAS -- For more than seven years Saw Lawla waited at a refugee camp in Burma, and another five years to make his American dream come true and own a restaurant.
"Everything is difficult for us," Lawla said. "Here in the United States we can do for ourself and find our future."
Lawla said, with his family, they left their home and resettled in Los Angeles. They moved to Amarillo shortly after and have lived here for the past four years.
"Too much in California," Lawla said. "Here, we have a big community, more friends and more of our people."
More refugees, Mayor Paul Harpole said, is currently one of the major issues in the City of Amarillo. Harpole and other city officials met with state representatives a few months back, but they didn't receive the answers they wanted.
"We take more refugees than any other city in the country," Harpole said. "We have a rich tradition of working well with refugees and we want to continue that; we just want the state department to consider spreading them around in other cities."
Harpole said it's a strain on hospitals, schools and other departments because of the various languages within refugee groups. According to Harpole there are more than 35 languages being spoken within the city.
Lawla agrees that learning to speak English has been a challenge, but he's overcome many in his life; his most recent the creation of Bagan Restaurant. It’s the newest Thai and sushi restaurant in Amarillo. Lawla is a co-owner along with three of his friends. The restaurant has only been open for a little more than two months, and Lawla said they've come here to work hard.
"We want to keep going from here, we don't just want this to be it," Lawla said.